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All taxonomy terms: Kenneth Faried, College Basketball, NBA
Path: /nba/kenneth-faried-denver-nuggets-reach-60-million-deal

Fresh off an oustanding summer spent as part of Team USA’s dominant run through the FIBA World Cup in Spain, Kenneth Faried has just gotten paid — big time. The relentless power forward, who started next to Anthony Davis for the Americans all summer, .


The move can be seen not just as a result of Faried’s terrific FIBA performance, but also as a reaction to . If Faried wasn’t worth all those simoleons as soon as a week ago, he probably is now. The $24 billion arrangement between the league, ESPN and Turner (which almost triples the previous one in place) is likely to make the salary cap jump upwards within a few years. By the time Faried’s contract is winding down, his pay rate will be far more equitable to his team.

Known for his long dreadlocks and bouncing, energetic style, Faried is dubbed by affectionate followers as “The Manimal.” His instinctive attack of the glass for rebounds and putbacks has electrified Nuggets fans since his rookie season in 2011-12. This kind of action — Faried putting back a Team USA teammate’s miss (Kyrie Irving’s) — has become quite the familiar basketball sight amidst the Rockies:


. It is, in so many words, simply too good of a value for Denver. But what’s clear is that they’re willing to pay their forward, and that he wants to stay put for a while. Whether the deal is bumped down to four years or not, Faried appears to be staying with his team.


The Nuggets went through a difficult transition year in 2013-14, going 36-46 under new coach Brian Shaw as they lost valuable pieces like Andre Iguodala, Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller, Danilo Galinari and Javale McGee through free agency, trades and injuries. They’ll have a hard time making waves in the vaunted Western Conference going forward, but locking down the valuable Manimal is sure to help.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-8-college-football-rankings-week-6

For the first time in the Legends Poll’s short history, two teams from the state of Mississippi are in the top 5.


No. 3 Mississippi State catapulted into the top 5 after a dominating performance over Texas A&M in Starkville Saturday, and the Bulldogs received their first ever first-place vote from Auburn legend Pat Dye. Dye is so high on Mississippi State, he picked them to upset his former team — and now No. 1 in the Legends Poll Top 8 — Auburn this coming weekend.


No. 4 Ole Miss also made its first top 5 appearance in the rankings this week after knocking off former No. 1 Alabama 23-17 at home this past Saturday. The Rebels don’t have much time to relax, though, as they travel to Texas A&M this week.


Top-ranked Auburn received seven first place votes and the other six went to Florida State, which moved back up a spot to No. 2 in the rankings.


Unbeaten Baylor rounded out the top 5, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan State.


To see the individual votes by coach, visit .


1AuburnAuburn (7)5-01045
2Florida StateFlorida State (6)5-0953
3Mississippi StateMississippi State (1)5-083-
4Ole MissOle Miss5-067-
7Notre DameNotre Dame5-028-
8Michigan StateMichigan State4-1208
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 13:40
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-7-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 7:










• A little Tuesday heartstring-tugging: .


• Cardinals fans encountered some Ferguson protestors..




• This is cool: .


• Pierre Garcon yanked on Richard Sherman's dreads. .






• You've probably seen this, but I don't care because it's awesome: Brandt Snedeker shooting skeet with a 4-iron.



--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-6

Sunday was a rough one for injuries, which figures to put the Week 6 availability of several key fantasy players in doubt, at best. Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Rashad Jennings, Montee Ball, Reggie Bush and Jake Locker are the biggest names that got hurt, but Kansas City and New Orleans are both on bye. While this may be good news for Graham owners (gives him time to heal), it means no Jamaal Charles, Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, Knile Davis, Travis Kelce or any other Saint or Chief. It’s shaping up to be yet another busy week on the waiver wire.


And that’s where Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans




Week 5 Recap: Mike Glennon also made it two wins in two starts, but Tampa Bay yielded an 11-point fourth-quarter lead on the road and eventually lost 37-31 in overtime to New Orleans. Glennon did his part, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. Teddy Bridgewater also missed out on an opportunity to go two-for-two, as his injured ankle prevented him from facing Green Bay on Thursday. Bridgewater is expected to start against Detroit on Sunday.


Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

Johnny who? Perhaps it’s time to stop wondering when Johnny Manziel will take over the Browns’ offense and instead give some credit to Hoyer. Trailing 28-3 with a little more than two minutes to go in the first half in Tennessee, Hoyer orchestrated the biggest comeback by a road team in NFL history. Behind his 292 yards and three touchdowns, Cleveland scored 26 unanswered points over the 30:12 of play to shock the Titans 29-28. Branded a “game manager,” Hoyer showed what he can do when called upon to make plays, as he doubled his season touchdown total in a little more than two quarters. Hoyer has just one interception on the season and it looks like offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is now starting to open up the playbook some. Hoyer faces a pretty tough test next week at home against Pittsburgh, but after that is very appealing – at Jacksonville and home vs. Oakland. If he puts together another solid showing Sunday it may be time to see what this Brown can do you for fantasy team.


Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill was on bye last week, but this may be the ideal time to invest in this Dolphin. His numbers don’t jump out (902-6-3), but after seemingly being put on notice by his head coach, the third-year starter responded with his best game of the season two weeks ago. In London against Oakland, Tannehill completed 23-of-31 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. He did have one interception, but the yardage and completion rate (74.2) were both season highs and he finished with a sparkling 109.3 QB rating. The Dolphins have shown signs of being a potent offensive team in first-year coordinator Bill Lazor’s system. As long as Tannehill continues in his progression as a passer and takes care of the football, he could develop into a reliable fantasy starting option.


Running Backs


Week 5 Recap: Khiry Robinson helped save the day for the Saints, rushing for 89 yards on 21 carries, including the game-winning 18-yard touchdown in overtime. Robinson and the Saints get Week 6 off though. Antone Smith was at it again on Sunday too, catching a 74-yard touchdown pass against the Giants. That catch was just one of his four total touches, so Smith’s workload is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Neither Jerrick McKinnon (7 att., 24 yds. and 3 rec., 22 yds.) nor Bishop Sankey (8 att., 27 yds.) were much of a factor in Week 5.


Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams

Zac Stacy suffered an apparent calf injury after fumbling in the third quarter, opening the door for Cunningham to see more touches. He capitalized on those opportunities, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run and also catching three passes for 24 yards. The Rams’ comeback attempt came up short, but Cunningham finished the game with 47 yards rushing on seven carries (6.7 ypc) to go with that score and the 24 yards receiving. If Stacy’s injury is bad enough that he will miss time, Cunningham figures to get the starter’s reps. One thing to keep in mind regarding St. Louis’ schedule, however. The Rams just came off of their bye and will host San Francisco Monday night followed by Seattle in Week 7.


Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

Continuing the injury theme, Montee Ball left in the third quarter against Arizona with a groin injury. He departed with a grand total of 18 yards on eight touches and was spotted using crutches after the game. Broncos head coach John Fox said on Monday that , so this opens up an opportunity for Hillman to step in and produce. Against the Cardinals, Hillman rushed for a game-high 64 yards on 15 carries (4.3 ypc). Hillman has had his chances to emerge before, but he’s also no stranger to this offense, which should help his chances of securing the starting role. Even if Hillman doesn’t do his best Knowshon Moreno impression (circa 2013), any player who is a safe bet to get a decent number of touches in Denver’s offense is worth consideration.



Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers

Ryan Mathews is out with a MCL injury, Danny Woodhead is on IR with a broken leg and Donald Brown left on Sunday after sustaining a concussion. Oliver was next man up for the Chargers and the undrafted rookie took full advantage of the opportunity, showing both the athleticism and all-around ability that helped him compile more than 4,700 yards from scrimmage at Buffalo. Against the Jets and their No. 1-ranked rushing defense, Oliver ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (6.0 ypc). He also added a touchdown catch (4 rec., 68 yds.) and had two plays that went for more than 50 yards. Even if Brown passes the league-mandated concussion protocols and is cleared to play this week, Oliver figures to remain a part of the game plan too.


Andre Williams, New York Giants

Rashad Jennings left with a knee injury in the third quarter and his team trailing at home to Atlanta. Williams, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, took over and picked up 65 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown that helped fuel 20 unanswered points that led to an eventual 30-20 victory. An MRI on Monday confirmed that Jennings has a sprained MCL and while surgery won't be necessary, he is expected to miss a few weeks. Keep in mind that Cleveland’s Ben Tate suffered a similar injury in the Browns’ season opener and he didn’t get back on the field until Week 5. With Jennings sidelined for the time being, Williams should get his first NFL start this week in primetime in Philadelphia. And a strong showing against the Eagles will only help him secure his role in the Giants' offense, even after Jennings returns to action.


Wide Receivers


Week 5 Recap: Brian Quick came out of a bye and continued his steady, productive play, catching two touchdown passes in St. Louis 34-28 loss in Philadelphia. Quick sure looks like the Rams’ No. 1 target. Minnesota’s offense struggled as a whole against Green Bay, as injury replacement quarterback Christian Ponder made few plays in the passing game. As a result, no Viking pass-catcher put up big numbers against the Packers, including Jarius Wright (3 rec., 27 yds.). Marvin Jones appeared set to make his season debut after breaking a bone in his foot in August, but an ankle injury sustained earlier last week prevented him from getting on the field Sunday night against the Patriots.


Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

It took five games, but the Giants finally got to see their first-round pick in action and he didn’t disappoint. Beckham hauled in four of his five targets in his first career NFL game, finishing with 44 yards and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, a 15-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Beckham’s five targets against the Falcons placed him third, a good sign considering all of the time the rookie had missed. Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense has really been clicking during their three-game winning streak and it appears that Beckham will be a part of the game plan moving forward.


Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans

The Titans lost a heartbreaker at home to the Browns, but at least there was a Hunter sighting. A popular breakout candidate entering this season, Hunter’s owners were disappointed with his meager production (9 rec., 138 yds.) through the first four games. That changed late in the second quarter, however, when Charlie Whitehurst and Hunter connected for a 75-yard touchdown. That big-play ability is what had everyone excited about Hunter this season and hopefully this is a sign of things to come. The other potential positive about that touchdown catch is that it came courtesy of Whitehurst, Jake Locker’s backup. Locker injured his hand against the Browns, so maybe a QB change will be the catalyst to finally get Hunter going.


Louis Murphy Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans, the Bucs’ first-round pick, is expected to miss about a month after injuring his groin last week. Murphy stepped in for Evans last week, finishing with six catches (on 11 targets) for 99 yards to help Tampa Bay come from behind and win in Pittsburgh. Then on Sunday, Murphy was making plays again, catching a 20-yard touchdown pass in the overtime loss in New Orleans. The Buccaneers’ passing game has gotten a jolt since Mike Glennon took over for an injured Josh McCown. Vincent Jackson may be the primary beneficiary of this change, but the opportunity is there for Murphy to produce as the team’s No. 2 wideout.


Tight Ends


Week 5 Recap: Atlanta surrendered a 10-point third-quarter lead to the Giants, but the Falcons’ defense made sure Larry Donnell wouldn’t be the one to beat it. Coming off a three-touchdown game, Donnell saw just one target and didn’t record a single catch against the Falcons. Donnell still appears to be a relatively safe TE1 moving forward, but it’s also possible that he has already peaked.


Tim Wright, New England Patriots

This may be chasing fool’s gold, but it’s worth noting that Wright and fellow TE Rob Gronkowski both had big games in the Patriots’ rout of the Bengals on Sunday night. Gronk paced the team with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Wright was right there with five grabs for 85 and a score of his own. Wright’s five targets also placed him third on the team behind only Gronkowski (11) and leading wide receiver Julian Edelman (8). It has taken some time, but perhaps the former Buccaneer is starting to settle into his role with his new team. If that’s the case, Wright could be able to provide similar production to when Gronkowski had Aaron Hernandez as his running mate during the 2011 and ’12 seasons.

Defense/Special Teams


Week 5 Recap: Pittsburgh did what DSTs are supposed to be when facing Jacksonville – pile up some fantasy points. The Steelers held the Jaguars to three field goals, while also collecting a sack and picking off two passes, the last of which was returned 22 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh will be in Cleveland for a key AFC North matchup Sunday before going on bye.


Philadelphia Eagles

It’s hard to not notice what the Eagles’ DST has accomplished this past two games. Two weeks ago, this DST racked up four sacks and accounted for three touchdowns – blocked punt, INT return and punt return. On Sunday, this collective unit was at it again, registering four more sacks and two more scores (blocked punt and fumble return). Put it together and that’s 51 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over the last two weeks. Philadelphia is the No. 1 DST in fantasy right now and as well as the Giants’ offense has performed recently, the Eagles have shown it can be productive even when it gives up a bunch of points (54 PA the past two games).


Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 6
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-6-bowl-projections-2014

With six weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is surrounded in uncertainty.


The new playoff format has added a new layer of intrigue, as four teams – instead of two – will have a shot at the national championship once the bowl pairings are announced in early December.


While only six weeks are in the books, it’s never too early to start looking at what the bowl picture might hold for each conference and team this year. The post-Week 6 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first five weeks of action. Expect several changes over the next few weeks, especially as the heart of conference play arrives in October.

Teams just missing the projections: California, Maryland, Oregon State, Wyoming, Texas State, ULM, USF, Western Kentucky. Remember: It’s only Week 6. Several changes are coming, and it’s impossible to project all of the wins and losses the rest of the way considering how much changes week-to-week in college football.


College Football's Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections

New OrleansDec. 20Sun Belt vs.
Mountain West
 UL Lafayette vs.
Utah State 
New MexicoDec. 20C-USA vs.
Mountain West
 North Texas vs.
Air Force 
Las VegasDec. 20Mountain West vs.
 Boise State vs.
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs.
Mountain West
 Bowling Green vs.
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Ohio vs.
Arkansas State 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs.
Cincinnati vs.
Boca RatonDec. 23C-USA vs.
 Marshall vs.
Northern Illinois 
PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
 Colorado State vs.
BahamasDec. 24C-USA vs. 

 MTSU vs.

HawaiiDec. 24C-USA vs.
Mountain West
Rice vs.
Fresno State 
Heart of DallasDec. 26Big Ten vs. 
 Rutgers vs.
Louisiana Tech 
Quick LaneDec. 26ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Boston College vs.
Bitcoin St. PetersburgDec. 26ACC vs.
 Pittsburgh vs.
MilitaryDec. 27ACC vs. 
 Duke vs.
SunDec. 27ACC vs. 
 Virginia vs.
Arizona State 
IndependenceDec. 27ACC vs.
 NC State vs.
PinstripeDec. 27ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Miami vs.
Penn State 
HolidayDec. 27Big Ten vs.
 Wisconsin vs.
LibertyDec. 29SEC vs.
Big 12
 Tennessee vs.
Oklahoma State 
Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC vs.
Big 12
 Georgia Tech vs.
Kansas State 
TexasDec. 29Big 12 vs.
 West Virginia vs.
Music CityDec. 30ACC/Big Ten vs.
 Iowa vs.
South Carolina 
BelkDec. 30ACC vs.
 Virginia Tech vs.
San FranciscoDec. 30Big Ten vs. 
 Northwestern vs.
OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs.
 Nebraska vs.
Texas A&M 
CitrusJan. 1Big Ten/ACC vs.
 Ohio State vs.
Armed ForcesJan. 2American/Army vs.
Big 12
Houston vs.
TaxslayerJan. 2ACC/Big Ten vs.
 Louisville vs.
AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs.
 TCU vs.
CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs.
 Texas vs.
BirminghamJan. 3American vs.
 Memphis vs.
GoDaddyJan. 4MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Toledo vs.
South Alabama 
New Year's Bowls 
PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
 East Carolina vs.
FiestaDec. 31At-large vs.
 Baylor vs.
Capital One
Dec. 31At-large vs.
 Clemson vs.
Notre Dame 
CottonJan. 1At-large vs.
 Michigan State vs.
RoseJan. 1Playoff
 Florida State vs. 
Ole Miss 
SugarJan. 1Playoff
 Auburn vs.
Mississippi State 
National TitleJan. 12Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
 Auburn vs.
Florida State 

* Indicates conference not projected to have enough bowl-eligible teams.

College Football's Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-6-playoff-projection-2014

The new college football playoff format has added even more intrigue to the 2014 season. Instead of figuring out the top two teams in early December, the focus has shifted to finding four teams to play in the first FBS postseason playoff format.


To help select the four playoff teams, a 13-person committee was picked, which includes names like Barry Alvarez, Oliver Luck, Pat Haden and Jeff Long, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former coach Tyrone Willingham.


Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. The official playoff committee will release its rankings starting on Oct. 28, but this poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.


Expert Panel


Bobby Bowden (),
Gene Stallings, (),
Don Nehlen (),
Steven Lassan (), 
Braden Gall (), 
Zac Ellis (),
David Fox (),
Mark Ennis (),
Teddy Mitrosilis (),

Matt Brown (),
Rich Cirminiello (),
Brad Crawford (),
Allen Kenney (),
Chris Anderson (),
Kyle Kensing (),
Adam Powell (),
Mitch Light ()
Josh Ward (),
Kevin McGuire (),
Mark Ross (),


Post-Week 6 Playoff Projection

1Auburn 127100000151
2Florida State 77510000140
3Mississippi State 15761000119
4Ole Miss 0149510099
5Baylor 0032633269
6Notre Dame 0000575253
7Alabama 0000146533
8Michigan State 0001122423
9TCU 0001122322
10Arizona 000001116
11Oklahoma 000000113
12TOhio State 000000011
12TGeorgia Tech 000000011

Takeaways from Expert Poll Results

* Auburn received 12 of the first-place votes. Florida State received seven, and Mississippi State claimed one first-place vote.

* According to the voting panel, Auburn, Florida State and Mississippi State clearly rank as the top three teams in the playoff projection. The Tigers did not receive a vote lower than third. The Seminoles did not receive a vote lower than fourth.

* Alabama ranks as the highest one-loss team from the voting panel. The Crimson Tide’s position is critical, as Nick Saban’s team still has to play two teams ranked higher in this week’s results (Mississippi State and Auburn).

* Looking ahead from this week’s results, more clarity in the top 10 should come after Saturday’s games. Auburn plays Mississippi State and Baylor hosts TCU.

* The Pac-12 is arguably college football’s No. 2 power conference behind the SEC. But the Pac-12’s first team in the rankings checks in at No. 10 Arizona. Yes, that’s right: Arizona. The Wildcats make their first appearance in the poll after beating Oregon, and no other Pac-12 team received consideration in this week’s vote. Is the Pac-12 setup to have too many good teams with not enough wins to be in the conversation for a spot in the playoffs?


Group of 5 Rankings


(One team from the Group of 5 conferences - American Athletic, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt - will play in one of college football's premier (New Year's Bowls) each season.


1. East Carolina
Record: 4-1

After games against South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina, it’s easy to see why East Carolina had a sluggish effort against SMU on Saturday. The Pirates won 45-24 but retain the top spot in the Group of 5 rankings. East Carolina travels to USF in Week 7, with back-to-back road trips against Temple and Cincinnati coming in early November.

2. Marshall
Record: 5-0

The Thundering Herd’s quest for an unbeaten season continued with an easy 56-14 victory over Old Dominion in Week 6. Marshall has won every game by at least 15 points this year. With a soft schedule, the Thundering Herd needs to win impressively to pass East Carolina for the Group of 5 spot.

3. Memphis
Record: 3-2

The Tigers replace Cincinnati as East Carolina’s biggest threat from the American Athletic Conference this week. Memphis has two quality losses (Ole Miss and UCLA) and defeated Cincinnati 41-14 in Week 6.

4.  Boise State
Record: 4-2

A week after a surprising loss to Air Force, Boise State rebounded with a key road win at Nevada. The remaining schedule for Bryan Harsin’s team is favorable, as the Broncos play four games at home in the final two months, including key showdowns against Utah State, BYU and Fresno State.

5. Colorado State

Record: 4-1

Jim McElwain’s team cruised to an easy win over Tulsa in Week 6 (42-17), which comes a week after a solid road victory at Boston College. The Rams play at Nevada this Saturday and host Utah State in Week 8. Colorado State needs a little help to jump Boise State in this ranking after losing to the Broncos in Week 2.


Key Games With Playoff Implications in Week 7


Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)
Noon ET, ABC

Sooners look to get back on track against rival Texas in a neutral site affair in Dallas.

Georgia at Missouri
Noon ET, CBS

Winner of this game should take control of the SEC East.

Auburn at Mississippi State
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Another SEC West showdown with national title and Heisman implications.

TCU at Baylor
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

Can the Horned Frogs take control of the Big 12 with an upset win in Waco?

Oregon at UCLA
3:30 p.m. ET, FOX

Both teams need a win after losing last Saturday. And this one could be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game.

Alabama at Arkansas
6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Expect an angry Crimson Tide team in Fayetteville this Saturday.

Penn State at Michigan
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Brady Hoke needs a win to quiet the hot seat talk.

LSU at Florida
7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Points could be at a premium with two teams struggling to generate offense.

Ole Miss at Texas A&M
9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Can Ole Miss avoid a letdown after beating Alabama? Aggies need a win to stay in the SEC West race.

USC at Arizona
10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

After allowing 510 passing yards to Arizona State last week, can the Trojans stop Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon?

College Football's Post-Week 6 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/4-things-we-learned-kansas-logano-rises-hendricks-quartet-unravels

Kansas is becoming known as the “cookie-cutter wild card.” Bizarre stuff has happened here during the 11 years it’s been a part of the Chase, from Greg Biffle winning a race in 2007 despite not crossing the checkered flag first to Jimmie Johnson surviving a banzai effort from Carl Edwards the following year (where the No. 99 car ran so hard into turn 3, on the final lap it slammed the outside wall and still almost beat the No. 48 back to the line). Entering Sunday, the last two seasons had seen the fall race won by two “lame duck” drivers competing for the title knowing their teams were splitting up the following year: Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.


Many people feel like this track is earning a reputation for mixing up the championship, a theory that grew Sunday with three top contenders finishing 36th or worse. But there’s an interesting sidebar to that, one Joey Logano will need to overcome in order to win a Cup title. The last 10 years, only one Kansas winner (Johnson in 2008) has gone on to win it all. Instead, the eventual champion has tended to lurk somewhere just behind, flexing consistency. Take a quick look at their finishes below:


2004: Kurt Busch (6th)

2005: Tony Stewart (4th)

2006: Jimmie Johnson (14th)

2007: Jimmie Johnson (3rd)

2008: Jimmie Johnson (WON)

2009: Jimmie Johnson (9th)

2010: Jimmie Johnson (2nd)

2011: Tony Stewart (15th)

2012: Brad Keselowski (8th)

2013: Jimmie Johnson (6th)

Average Finish Of Chase Champion: 6.8


That puts the titlist somewhere around fifth to seventh place, while no champ has finished outside the top 15 (ominous news for the trio of Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Johnson). So who was sitting in those spots Sunday, seemingly in position to advance forward with solid runs? Edwards, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin, drivers most had crossed out of their Chase grid once the field shrinks from 12 to eight after Talladega. Each would cause a minor uproar if he wound up as Cup champion, for different reasons. (Edwards – “lame duck” who’s lacked consistent speed all season, Newman – got here by top-10ing people to death instead of running up front, Hamlin – missed a race and wouldn’t have gotten here without Talladega win).


Sounds farfetched at the moment, right? But not if Kansas history repeats itself. So in terms of this race mixing up the title fight, we may not have seen anything yet.


Through the Gears we go…


FIRST GEAR: Sliced Bread slicing through the competition

On a day where top contenders suffered through tire problems, Joey Logano took control of his own destiny. Leading a race-high 122 laps, the No. 22 Ford was the class of the field when others fell out, challenged only by young Kyle Larson and the pit strategy of Ryan Newman. With a career-high five victories, Logano is having a breakthrough season; advancing to the final eight around the same age Jeff Gordon was when he won the first of his four championships at 23.


“I have to thank J.D. and Joe [Gibbs] for giving him the time, kind of getting it ready for us,” joked owner Roger Penske Sunday. “Probably have to send him a check.”


Logano, recently signed to a long-term extension, is in the best position of his career. Now, the question is whether he can handle the pressure of being in a serious title fight. The next two weeks (just like teammate Brad Keselowski did at Chicagoland Speedway about a month ago) this Penske driver can tune up for the biggest challenge to come: clearing the last hurdle and making it to Homestead. With an average finish of 3.0 at Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix in the spring (including a win in the Lone Star State) it would be a massive disappointment now if Logano didn’t move forward. At this point, the sky is the limit and if teammate Keselowski somehow falters, expect the entire organization to put its full weight behind getting the youngster his first title. Along those lines, with Keselowski finishing 36th at Kansas after a tire failure, it’s now a tall order for the No. 2 team to move forward. So this organizational shift, one that could only help Logano, is a very real possibility.


SECOND GEAR: Hendrick’s horrifying afternoon

No one suffered more Sunday than title favorite Hendrick Motorsports, whose teams unraveled as quickly as their Goodyear tires. Jimmie Johnson, despite the worst weekend of all, may actually be in the best shape of the trio. Despite running 40th at Kansas, primarily due to Johnson being a victim of his own self-inflicted wounds (qualifying spin) before Greg Biffle finished him off, Saturday night provides a saving grace for the six-time champion in Charlotte. It’s one of the team’s best tracks, where Johnson won the Coca-Cola 600 in the spring and a victory there is now a “must have” for the No. 48 to have any shot at moving on to the round of eight.


“We’ve got to be on our game at Charlotte and Talladega,” he said. “There is still a lot of racing left. Stuff can happen. We’ll see how the other Chasers fare. If I can get taken out today, somebody else can at Charlotte. We’ll do our best to get on track and then certainly need W’s, I would assume, going forward.”


The veteran experience of Johnson should help, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne may be in more difficult situations. Earnhardt, in his last season with crew chief Steve Letarte had a fast car for the first time in this Chase and was leading the pack at Kansas, but he was ultimately undone by a flat tire. The resulting damage left him 39th, meaning the No. 88 must also run up front the next two events. Earnhardt has never won a points-paying race at Charlotte, and despite a history of success at Talladega hasn’t won there since 2004. Even two top-5 finishes the next two races, as an alternative to victory might not be enough to erase a 25-point deficit to get to eighth place.


Kahne, meanwhile had a top-5 car ruined by late contact with the outside wall. The worst-performing of the Hendrick bunch all season, he now needs luck at both Charlotte and Talladega, something that’s been in short supply. Even Jeff Gordon had a difficult day, making contact with the outside wall after a tap from Jamie McMurray within the first 150 miles of the race. Gordon was “off” the rest of the day, running 14th and is tied for the final transfer spot with Matt Kenseth.


So could all four Hendrick drivers wind up eliminated, in this round? Highly unlikely. But the fact it’s a possibility, right now showcases the unpredictability of NASCAR’s new format, how big a player bad luck now is (see: Aric Almirola, Chicagoland) and the need to be on top of your game every race.


THIRD GEAR: Sunday’s surprise winners: Joe Gibbs Racing

Where Hendrick Motorsports faltered, Joe Gibbs Racing launched forward by following one of racing’s simplest philosophies: in order to finish first, you must first finish. JGR Toyotas avoided tire trouble, and when they did have issues, in the case of Matt Kenseth, they were diagnosed before a trip to the outside wall. While the No. 20 car was damaged slightly, its championship driver still brought it home 13th, remaining inside the top 8 in points while Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin were third and seventh, respectively.


No one got more of a boost from Kansas than Busch, who’s been cursed at this track throughout his career. Sunday was his first top-5 finish there in 15 starts, an impressive performance especially considering JGR’s lack of speed on 1.5-mile ovals all year – and a speeding penalty that at one point set him back in the pack.


“I set my mind to it that there is no reason why we can’t run good here,” he said. “We did that here today and it felt good.”


Both Busch and Hamlin, who each successfully fought a dashboard fire by turning off switches inside their cars, are almost certainly in the final six races with their current crew chiefs. Just don’t underestimate them; Hamlin’s head wrench, Darian Grubb won a title with Tony Stewart knowing he’d be replaced the following year. In this format, three top 10s is going to be all it takes to move on and JGR, with the even-keeled Kenseth as its leader, is masking its lack of speed with that consistency. Perhaps the most unlikely year for JGR to win a championship is the one where the team may finally break through, ending a nine-year drought.


FOURTH GEAR: Teams building for 2015

Despite an expanded field of 16 playoff contenders, this Chase has seen a surprising amount of strong performances from those outside the title hunt. Kyle Larson continues to impress, running second Sunday and knocking on the door of a victory with Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s the only rookie to run inside the top 3 in 2014, and looked like a veteran in chasing down Logano late. Further back, teammate Jamie McMurray, while enduring both a speeding penalty and a tire problem, didn’t get the finish his No. 1 car the way he deserved. Both drivers could easily get a win over the final six races, and Charlotte is a good track for CGR: McMurray has won there in the past, including the All-Star event in May.


Martin Truex, Jr., meanwhile is finally flexing some muscle with a team in Furniture Row Racing that made the Chase last year. He earned a season-best fourth Sunday, inside the top 5 all afternoon to go with a seventh at Dover last week. And Brian Vickers, after a season of inconsistency, now has five top-15 finishes in his last six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing. Even Danica Patrick, with five top-20 results in her last six events, is showing marked improvement. There’s still a far-too-large gap between the “haves” and “have nots” in this sport, but among the two dozen or so drivers that have adequate funding, they’re showcasing parity down the stretch.



Don’t count out Ryan Newman. The most unlikely potential champion out of the 12 Chasers remaining (as he has never really threatened to win all season),  Newman led laps Sunday and wound up sixth. With the No. 31 team owning an outstanding history at Talladega, they’ve put themselves in position to advance to the round of eight… On a day where most small teams ran several laps off the pace, Landon Cassill brought his No. 40, single-car Hillman Racing team home 21st, on the lead lap. A finish that good, with a team that has 10 percent of the funding top organizations have? (Snap Fitness did sponsor them at Kansas). It’s incredible Cassill isn’t mentioned for higher-end openings, like the No. 9 Ford ride seemingly destined for David Ragan or Sam Hornish, Jr. … For a track that’s weathered its share of criticism, Kansas Speedway produced 25 lead changes Sunday. That’s the most for a Cup race since Michigan in June and more than the last two Chase races combined, a promising sign for a racetrack whose pavement is two years old and gradually aging… Austin Dillon was a quiet eighth, his best unrestricted performance of the season. The driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet is a solid second for Rookie of the Year, gradually improving, but rival Kyle Larson has overshadowed him. Winning just nine of the 30 rookie awards this season, Dillon would need a miracle victory, combined with a Larson collapse over the final six races just to have a shot at snagging top freshman honors.



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4 Things We Learned at Kansas: Logano Rises, Hendrick’s Quartet Unravels
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: LeBron James, NBA
Path: /nba/lebron-james-calls-out-nba-owners-again

is going to make everyone involved with the league a lot of money. It’s worth a reported $24 billion, after all. But, at least in the short term, it’s also dragging out some old grudges. Namely, it reminds us all of the tension between team owners and players during the 2011 NBA lockout, which led to the season starting late, on Christmas day.


"We gave a lot," , looking back at 2011’s collective bargaining agreement that got the players back on the hardwood, but also put a hard cap on team spending and greatly reduced player salaries. “The whole thing that went on with the last negotiation process was the owners are losing money. There's no way they can sit in front of us and tell us that right now.”


$24 billion — this huge number is only the latest signal that owners dishonestly portrayed their earnings in 2011. The $2 billion price tag of the Los Angeles Clippers was a sure sign that basketball’s profits are going through the roof, as was that the Milwaukee Bucks (one of the least lucrative franchises in the league) recently sold for, to hedge fund gurus Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry of New York.


LeBron James showed this summer just how much clout he carries in the NBA. The league was at a standstill waiting for his decision to return to Cleveland, which set off an eventful chain of free agency events. He then recruited friends and respected peers Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and James Jones to his new team effectively acting as the Cavs' general manager.

The deal James signed this summer only keeps him in Cleveland for two seasons at the most, and he can dangle his ever-precious abilities over NBA executives in Ohio and beyond as soon as next summer, if he’s to opt out of his second year. So when he speaks his mind about the league’s business, you better believe that the brass above is listening.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-louisville-cardinals-team-preview

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 


No. 9 Louisville will play under its fourth different conference banner under Rick Pitino when the Cardinals, formerly of Conference USA, the Big East and American, join the ACC. Pitino has his team ready to contend in yet another league thanks in part to the return of forward Montrezl Harrell, who spurned the NBA draft for a shot at a national title.


The Louisville edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.


Rick Pitino says that his frontcourt will not take a backseat to any team’s this season. He feels the same way about his backcourt. Pitino is a Hall of Famer who has won conference titles in five different leagues, so even though the Cardinals are making their debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Louisville won’t have issues being outcoached.


Pitino talks like a coach who expects another top-10 season with a team he believes can play on the brightest national stages, even though the Cards have only one starter left from their 2013 NCAA championship team. Despite Pitino’s confidence in his first five, the coach understands that his bench is unproven. The reserves are talented, but their growth and improvement will determine if Louisville can handle elite teams.


No. 9 Louisville Cardinals Facts & Figures

Last season: 31-6, 15-3 American

Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 8

Coach: Rick Pitino (335-116 at Louisville, 148-62 CUSA/Big East/AAC)

ACC Projection: Third

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16




For two hours last April, Pitino was convinced that Montrezl Harrell was bound for the NBA. He would have been a first-round selection. But two hours after telling Pitino he was leaving, Harrell did a U-turn, saying he was determined to play his way into recognition as one of the top-10 players in the country. Harrell has the force, determination and skills. He must improve his 46 percent free throw stroke and prove he can make the 12-foot jumper. 


Wayne Blackshear is the sole remaining starter from the 2013 champs, and Blackshear played off the bench at times last season. Pitino has questioned Blackshear’s commitment to the game. He has also become a player who’s too willing to defer to teammates and settle for perimeter shots.


Mangok Mathiang is following the Gorgui Dieng growth pattern. He averaged 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in less than 15 minutes per game, but Pitino loves his ability to block shots and protect the rim. Mathiang needs to make the improvement that Dieng made, playing at the top of the key and passing the ball.


Pitino says that he expects Akoy Agau, a sophomore power forward, to be the team’s most improved player, but Agau will have to out-perform four talented freshmen.


Chinanu Onuaku, whose older brother, Arinze, played at Syracuse, is the most physically ready to play. Jaylen Johnson, who is 6-9, is considered the most skilled. A pair of 7-footers with foreign backgrounds, Matz Stockman (Norway) and Anas Osama Mahmoud (Egypt), fill out the frontcourt.




Russ Smith was one of the best players in college basketball the last two seasons, but even Smith says the Cardinals will not have major issues replacing him. Sophomore Terry Rozier was terrific off the bench last season, averaging 7.0 points and less than one turnover in 19 minutes per game. He’s dynamic off the dribble and protects the ball.


Pitino does not run a point guard/shooting guard offense, but he is demanding more leadership from Chris Jones, his senior. The coach has asked Jones to lose some weight because he believes that would give Jones the quickness to get into the lane against any defender.


Anton Gill, a sophomore, showed a solid shooting stroke in limited minutes, but his push for more playing time won’t be any easier even with the departures of Smith and sharp-shooting Luke Hancock. Quentin Snider was the best high school player in Kentucky last season. He is a combo guard known for his poised decision-making.


Pitino is also high on Shaquan Aaron, who follows Peyton Siva and Terrence Williams from Seattle to Louisville. Pitino is already comparing Aaron to former Cardinal Francisco Garcia.


Final Analysis


Replacing Smith, Hancock and Stephan Van Treese (who started 21 games at center) would seem to be a daunting task, considering all the big shots that Smith and Hancock made the last two seasons.


But Pitino is convinced that this will be one of his better teams by the end of the season if Mathiang can make a normal progression and if he can develop at least one of his freshmen. 


Pitino might be right about his team. Harrell has the tenacity and ability to play inside with anybody. Blackshear has plenty of big-game experience. Rozier and Jones are capable of averaging more than 20 points per game. A maiden trip through the ACC will only make the season more interesting.




Shaqquan Aaron is a dynamic scorer and playmaker from the wing. Quentin Snider understands the value of taking good shots but can still make highlight plays. Chinanu Onuaku brings a blue-collar approach to collecting rebounds and defending the paint. Jaylen Johnson needs to add 15 pounds but plays well above the rim. Expect either Matz Stockman or Anas Osama Mahmoud to redshirt. Both will need time.

College Basketball 2014-15: Louisville Cardinals Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-6-recap
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 6 Recap
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 17:05
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/5-running-backs-replace-montee-ball

Denver running back Montee Ball suffered a groin injury in the third quarter of the Broncos’ 41-20 win over the Cardinals on Sunday. After the game, Ball was spotted on crutches and on Monday head coach John Fox said Ball's groin strain could cause him to miss up to three weeks.


Entering this season, Ball was a popular choice for a fantasy breakout candidate, considering Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos’ leading rusher and the No. 4 fantasy RB in 2013, signed with Miami as a free agent. His predecessor’s success was one of the reasons why those who used an early draft pick on Ball were at least hoping for Moreno-like numbers: 1,038 yards rushing, 10 TDs, along with 60 receptions for 548 yards and three scores.


Unfortunately, that has not been the case with Ball, who was averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, had one rush of 20 or more yards and just one touchdown before his injury. In fact, he left Sunday’s game after rushing for just seven yards on six carries (also had 2 catches for 11 yards).


So the good news for Ball owners is they don’t have to worry about replacing a ton of production. They do, however, have a potential lineup or roster hole that now needs to be filled. Here are five running backs that could help Ball owners weather the storm as long as he’s sidelined In fact, this list also could be useful to those who have Rashad Jennings, Zac Stacy, Reggie Bush or Donald Brown , other backs who left their game on Sunday due to injury, on their roster.


Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

When it comes to productive offensive teams like Denver, the obvious thing to do in case of an injury is to turn to the next man on the depth chart. For now, that appears to be Hillman, who took over after Ball’s injury and finished with a game-high 64 yards rushing on 15 carries (4.3 ypc). Hillman has had his chances to emerge before, but he’s also no stranger to this offense, which should help his chances of securing the starting role. Even if Hillman doesn’t do his best Moreno impression, any player who is a safe bet to get a decent number of touches in this offense is worth consideration.


Chris Ivory, New York Jets

The Jets brought in former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson as a free agent, but Ivory has been the most productive ground-gainer thus far. Ivory leads the team in both carries (59) and yards (318), as he’s averaging a more than respectable 5.4 per carry. He has slowly but surely taken over as the Jets’ No. 1 back and has the ability to get the job done between the tackles as well as break off a long one (71-yard touchdown in Week 1). With the struggles the Jets have had at quarterback, they are going to have to keep running the ball to establish any sort of consistent offense. And that’s where Ivory comes in.


Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens don’t lack for backfield options, as three different players have already totaled at least 32 carries. But while Bernard Pierce has dealt with injuries and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has had his moments, it’s Forsett who has been both the most consistent and the most productive. Forsett leads the team in rushing (297 yards) and his 5.9 yards per carry is tied for the top mark in the NFL. He has three rushing touchdowns and also is second on the team with 23 catches (118 yards, TD). This may look like a crowded backfield but for the time being, it appears that Forsett is option A with Pierce and Taliaferro battling for B status.


Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers

Ryan Mathews is out with a MCL injury, Danny Woodhead is on IR with a broken leg and Donald Brown left on Sunday after sustaining a concussion. Oliver was next man up for the Chargers and the undrafted rookie took full advantage of the opportunity, showing both the athleticism and all-around ability that helped him compile more than 4,700 yards from scrimmage at Buffalo. Against the Jets, Oliver ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (6.0 ypc). He also added a touchdown catch (4 rec., 68 yds.) and had two plays that went for more than 50 yards. Even if Brown passes the league-mandated concussion protocols and is cleared to play this week, Oliver figures to remain a part of the game plan too.


Andre Williams, New York Giants

Rashad Jennings left with a knee injury in the third quarter and his team trailing at home to Atlanta. Williams, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, took over and picked up 65 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown that helped fuel 20 unanswered points that led to an eventual 30-20 victory. An MRI on Monday confirmed that Jennings has a sprained MCL and while surgery won't be necessary, he is expected to miss a few weeks. Keep in mind that Cleveland’s Ben Tate suffered a similar injury in the Browns’ season opener and he didn’t get back on the field until Week 5. With Jennings sidelined for the time being, Williams should get his first NFL start this week in primetime in Philadelphia. And a strong showing against the Eagles will only help him secure his role in the Giants' offense, even after Jennings returns to action.

5 Running Backs to Replace Montee Ball
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 17:00
Path: /college-football/northwestern-unveils-gothic-uniforms-game-against-nebraska

Northwestern is set to unveil a new alternate uniform for its Oct. 18 showdown against Nebraska.

On Monday, the Wildcats unveiled a gothic-style uniform for the upcoming matchup.

Check out Northwestern’s new look for 2014:

Northwestern Unveils Gothic Uniforms for Game Against Nebraska
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 15:12
Path: /college-football/previewing-top-five-college-football-games-week-7


Not that we needed any more reminders that last week was a three-day period of chaos in college football like none other, but take a look at the impact games in the aftermath for Week 7.


It’s the middle of October, and an Auburn-Mississippi State game and TCU-Baylor game carry more weight than LSU-Florida and Texas-Oklahoma.


That’s what happens when 11 AP ranked teams lose in a week, including five of the top eight.


Teams that just picked up major wins — Mississippi State, Ole Miss and TCU — have little time for rest. And teams that suffered upsets — Alabama, Oregon and UCLA — have immediate opportunities to rebound against major opponents.


Here’s what we have to watch as new contenders try to establish themselves and teams that lost last week try to pick up the pieces.


The Week Ahead: Oct. 11

All times Eastern. All games Saturday.


Auburn at Mississippi State

When and where: 3:30 p.m., CBS

We’re watching because... now we’ll see how Mississippi State handles success. The LSU win two weeks ago was an upset. The Texas A&M win Saturday was an announcement that Mississippi State is a legit contender. Now, the Bulldogs are in the top three, they boast a Heisman contender and they’re facing the defending SEC champions. LSU and Texas A&M might not be as good as they appeared on paper, but Auburn is. With Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott at quarterback, this won’t be a replay of the infamous 3-2 game in 2008.

Vegas says: Auburn by 2 1/2


TCU at Baylor

When and where: 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

We’re watching because... TCU’s rise means Baylor finally takes on a quality opponent. Shockingly, this game will upstage Texas-Oklahoma as the most important Big 12 game of the day. Baylor is on the radar for a playoff spot, but the Bears have played a light schedule so far. Meanwhile, TCU has added a Big 12-style offense to go with its traditionally stifling defense. Baylor can either solidify its Big 12 credentials or suddenly TCU is the league frontrunner.

Vegas says: Baylor by 10


Oregon at UCLA

When and where: 3:30 p.m., FOX

We’re watching because... one of these teams will salvage its season while the other is in a world of trouble. Makeshift offensive lines have become the weak link on teams that had hoped to contend for the national title. Star quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley were sacked 15 times combined last week alone. A game we thought would determine a playoff frontrunner in the Pac-12 is now just a contest between two teams looking to avoid a 1-2 start in the league.

Vegas says: Oregon by 3


Alabama at Arkansas

When and where: 6 p.m., ESPN

We’re watching because... Alabama will be on meltdown watch. The Crimson Tide aren’t out of the SEC race simply because of a loss to Ole Miss. The West may be too tough for any team to escape unscathed. Facing Arkansas in Fayetteville won’t be easy. The Hogs are rested and have a clear identity on offense. For Alabama, a win would be a relief. A second consecutive loss would throw Tuscaloosa into a state of panic.

Vegas says: Alabama by 9 1/2


Ole Miss at Texas A&M

When and where: 9 p.m., ESPN

We’re watching because... now we’ll see how Ole Miss handles success. The parallel seasons for Ole Miss and Mississippi State continue as the Rebels also face another tough division opponent. The Rebels’ defense enjoyed a breakout day against Alabama, but can they do it on the road against Texas A&M? Ole Miss has intercepted 10 passes this season compared to allowing one touchdown pass.

Vegas says: Texas A&M by 3

Previewing the Top Five College Football Games in Week 7
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 14:06
All taxonomy terms: NBA, News
Path: /nba/nba-reaches-new-24-billion-tv-deal-espn-turner

The NBA announced Monday that it’s a reached a new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and Turner. That’s an awful lot of money. The new arrangement — effective starting with the 2016-17 season, and running until 2024-25 — is worth nearly triple the amount of the current one. Annual payments to the league will rise from $930 million to $2.66 billion, .


reported last night that he’d “talked to a few young players tonight about NBA's new TV deal. They are understandably ecstatic. Good time to be a young NBA player.”


This lucrative contract means more income for everyone involved—that’s why LeBron James signed his newest deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for just two years, including a second-year player option. He knew the sport was about to see significantly more TV money, and that it would trickle down to the players soon enough. Barring injuries, it’s safe to expect James to sign for a historically large figure either next summer or in 2016.




“Under the agreements, the partners will televise more national regular-season games (ABC/ESPN: 100; Turner: 64) and will continue to do so generally on Wednesdays (ESPN), Thursdays (TNT), Fridays (ESPN), and Sundays (ABC/ESPN). By the end of these new agreements, the NBA’s partnership will reach 41 years with Turner, while the league’s relationship with ABC/ESPN will extend to 23 years. Additionally, NBA TV’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday game telecasts will continue to fill out the schedule, ensuring a full week of nationally televised games. The NBA’s 24-hour network will present over 100 regular-season games each year.”


— John Wilmes


Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 13:31
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/floridas-quarterback-woes-continue-suspension-treon-harris

Florida’s offense has hit another speed bump, as true freshman quarterback Treon Harris has been indefinitely suspended from the team due to an off-the-field incident. With Harris suspended, the Gators are expected to start Jeff Driskel in Saturday night’s game against LSU.

According to an official statement from the school, Harris is accused of sexual assault on Sunday morning.

Harris was one of the few bright spots for the Gators in Saturday’s ugly 10-9 win over Tennessee. The true freshman completed 2 of 4 passes for 17 yards and added 24 yards on four carries.

While the final numbers weren’t overly impressive, Harris led Florida’s offense on its only scoring drives of the day.

Harris is expected to remain indefinitely suspended from the team pending the outcome of the investigation.

New coordinator Kurt Roper has struggled to get the Gators’ offense on track this year, as Florida is averaging just 5.2 yards per play and ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring.

Quarterback play has been a problem for Florida since Tim Tebow departed, as Florida has ranked 10th or worse in the SEC in scoring since 2012.

Roper was hired to install an offense that maximized the talents of Driskel, but the junior is completing just 54.7 percent of his throws and has tossed six picks to just five touchdowns.

Driskel started the year by posting big numbers (248 yards, 1 TD against Eastern Michigan and 295 yards and 3 TDs against Kentucky), but he has five interceptions and just 20 completions over the last two games.

If Driskel continues to struggle, Florida may have to turn to true freshman Will Grier.

With the struggles under center and limited offense, the Gators need a big effort from their defense and rushing attack against LSU on Saturday night.

Despite Florida’s win over Tennessee, coach Will Muschamp is squarely on the hot seat and needs to get the Gators back in a bowl to save his job for 2015.

With Harris indefinitely suspended, combined with a struggling Driskel expected to start, Muschamp’s long-term outlook isn’t improving with Florida’s continuing question marks at quarterback. 

Florida's Quarterback Woes Continue With Suspension of Treon Harris
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 13:23
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-6-acc

Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.


Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Atlantic Coast Conference football action:


Louisville's defense leads the nation in total defense (230.2 ypg), rushing defense (58.3), pass interceptions (12), and third down conversion defense (23.1 percent).


Clemson recorded its first shutout in the Dabo Swinney era in a 41-0 win against N.C. State. It was the Tigers' first shutout since 2008 (South Carolina State) and the first over an ACC opponent in 16 years.


With its 24-13 win over Pittsburgh, Virginia is 2-0 in ACC play for the first time since 2009. On the way to 2-0 within the conference, the Cavaliers ended a seven-game winless streak in the month of October. Saturday was their first victory in October since a 28-21 win against Miami in 2011.


With Florida State's 43-3 win against Wake Forest, Jimbo Fisher became the 10th coach in major college football history to reach the 50-win mark in his first five seasons. He did so in 60 games.


On the way to a 34-17 win over North Carolina, Virginia Tech saw two of its four touchdowns scored by freshmen. That makes 16 of the first 22 touchdowns of the Hokies' season having been scored by freshmen (18 of 22 by underclassmen).



Virginia has scored 20+ points in six straight games for the first time since 2003-04 (eight games), and scored 20+ in six consecutive games in the same season for the first time since 2002.


Florida State has won 21 straight games, the nation's longest current winning streak. The streak is also the ACC's longest winning streak, breaking FSU's own record during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The Seminoles have won 18 straight ACC games dating back to a loss to N.C. State in 2012.

Saturday’s win over North Carolina was the 66th ACC win of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer’s storied career. That ties Clemson's Frank Howard for third place on the conference’s wins list. Beamer is only in his 11th season in the league, while Howard achieved his ACC total in 17 seasons. Beamer, whose 270 career wins are more than any other active coach in the FBS and rank sixth all-time, trails only Virginia’s George Welsh (85) and Florida State's Bobby Bowden (118) on the ACC all-time league wins list.

Clemson true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson leads the nation in yards per pass attempt at 11.18. He is also second nationally in pass efficiency (197.6), and 10th nationally in pass completion percentage.

In its 28-17 win over Miami, Georgia Tech posted its seventh-highest time of possession in school history by holding on to the ball for 40:45 of the 60-minute affair. The Yellow Jackets ran 65 times for 318 yards.


- Corby A. Yarbrough

@Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter


10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 5
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 11:16
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/lebron-james-redebuts-cleveland-cavaliers

The 2014 NBA Preseason began Saturday night, but had its big splash on Sunday when LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers played their first game together at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. James and the Cavs beat their new coach David Blatt’s old squad — Maccabi Tel Aviv, a pro team from Israel—and the competition wasn’t particularly close. 


The final was 107-80, a drubbing that featured James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love playing their first game together. The trio didn’t do anything spectacular, but they didn’t need to. Cleveland’s top performer of the game was actually Tristan Thompson, a fourth-year power forward who put up fourteen points and thirteen rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting. He also caught this nifty outlet pass from Love (sure to be the first of many):


The contest was all but over when Cleveland opened the second quarter with a 17-6 run, to go up 47-30. When told by an Israeli reporter that the Cavs “smashed” Tel Aviv, : “Those aren’t nice words. Don’t want to use them about my old team.”


Things are easy for Cleveland against non-NBA teams, so last night’s result shouldn’t surprise anyone. Perhaps the King and his Cavaliers will face thornier competition in their next battle, which comes against the scorned Miami Heat this Saturday, October 11. Although Dwyane Wade has recently said he and James are still good friends, it’s hard to believe there aren’t some hard competitive feelings between the two that will find their way onto the court.


Wade did recently confess that there was a shadowy malaise over LeBron’s final season in Miami. “Throughout that run at certain times, it just wasn’t fun,” .


— John Wilmes @johnwilmesNBA

Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/12-amazing-nfl-stats-week-5-2014

Numbers and statistics are a huge part of measuring performance and marking milestones in the NFL. With that in mind, Athlon Sports rounded up the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 5 of the season.



Dallas' DeMarco Murray became the third player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in each of his team's first five games to start a season. He had 136 in the team's 20-17 overtime win against Houston, and ties O.J. Simpson (five games in 1973 and 1975) and is one game shy of tying Jim Brown (six games in 1958).



Philadelphia now has seven total return touchdowns, the most of any NFL team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The Eagles added two return TDs in their 34-28 win against St. Louis in Week 5.



Denver's Julius Thomas added two touchdown receptions in the Broncos' 41-20 win over Arizona Sunday. His seven touchdowns not only leads all NFL players this season but is also the most by a tight end in his team's first four games to begin a season in league history.



Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne caught for 77 yards in the Colts' 20-13 win against Baltimore and moved up to ninth on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage list. His 13,950 surpassed Cris Carter's 13,899 for ninth.



Chicago fell to Carolina 31-24 in Week 6, marking the Bears' 16th game decided by one score since the start of last season. That is the most in the NFL.



Cleveland posted the largest road comeback in NFL history by erasing a 25-point deficit in a 29-28 win against Tennessee. The Browns trailed 28-3 at one point. Only two other teams have posted larger regular-season comebacks (San Francisco came back from 28 down against New Orleans in 1980 and Buffalo rallied from 26 down against Indianapolis in 1997). Each of Cleveland's first four games this season have been decided by three points or less, the most of any NFL team since Washington did so in 2005.



San Diego's Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns in the Chargers' 31-0 win against the Jets, and surpassed Isaac Bruce (91) for No. 10 on the NFL's all-time career TD receptions list.



Peyton Manning joined Brett Favre (508) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 500 career passing touchdowns in Denver's win Sunday. He enters Week 6 with 503 career TD passes. In the win, Manning threw for a career-high 479 yards and four scores. It was his 13th 400-yard game, topping Dan Marino for most in NFL history.



Denver receiver Wes Welker had seven catches in Week 5 and now has 854 in his career, surpassing former Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith (849) for the most catches by an undrafted player in NFL history.



Dallas' Jason Witten became the third tight end in NFL history with 10,000 career receiving yards as his 59 yards in Week 5 gives him 10,014. He joins Tony Gonazlez (15,127) and Shannon Sharpe (10,060). Witten is the second-fastest tight end to reach the milestone (180 games). Gonzalez reached 10,000 yards in his 177th game, while Sharpe did so in his 203rd game.



New Orleans' Drew Brees became the fastest quarterback to reach 40,000 passing yards with one team when he hit the mark this week. Brees threw for 371 yards in a 37-31 overtime win against Tampa Bay, and is now at 40,307 for his career. He is the seventh QB in league history with 40,000 yards with one team, and did so in 132 games to surpass Dan Marino, reaching the mark in 153.



New England's Tom Brady became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 yards in his career after throwing for 292 yards in a 43-17 win over Cincinnati. Brady joined Brett Favre (71,838), Peyton Manning (65,779), Dan Marino (61,361), Drew Brees (52,284) and John Elway (51,475).

Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 10:37
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-6-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 6:


• Breaking news: .












That kind of analysis is why he makes the big bucks.








• While his team was getting drubbed, .


• Lorenzo Cain: Where Angels fly balls go to die.




--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFC, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-washington-redskins-game-preview-and-prediction

The defending Super Bowl champions’ title defense tour makes a stop in our nation’s capital, as Seattle will take on Washington on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Seahawks (2-1) are coming off of their bye still riding high following their overtime victory over Denver two weeks ago. The Redskins (1-3) meanwhile are back in the primetime spotlight a little more than a week after an embarrassing 45-14 home loss to the Giants.


This will be the first meeting between these two teams since the NFC Wild Card game following the 2012 season. In that game, NFC East champion Washington jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Seattle scored the final 24 points to advance. Robert Griffin III injured his knee in the disappointing loss and he hasn’t been the same player since. The Redskins tumbled to 3-13 last season, resulting in a head-coaching change. On the other side, this comeback win was Russell Wilson’s first playoff victory, a total he added to during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run last season.


Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Seattle -7.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Kirk Cousins’ Learning Curve

Following an impressive first start against Philadelphia two weeks ago, Kirk Cousins came crashing back to earth against the Giants. Filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III, Cousins nearly led his team to a road victory in Week 3 against the defending NFC East champions, throwing for 427 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. His next start didn’t go near as well, however, as the Giants’ defense harassed Cousins all night long, picking him off four times and limiting him to just 257 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-33 passing. A lost fumble put the finishing touches on a horrendous all-around performance, as Cousins and the Redskins lost by 31 points at home.  Cousins will get the opportunity to demonstrate his toughness and show that’s he learned from last week’s debacle with a solid showing against Seattle’s vaunted defense. It’s still early, but the Seahawks have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 70 percent of their passes with six touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Then again, the quarterbacks this unit has faced so far are pretty good – Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. No one’s mistaking Cousins for the second coming of any from this trio, but first-year head coach Jay Gruden (not to mention Redskins fans) is certainly hoping for better results from his young signal-caller tonight compared to last week’s stat line.



2. Seattle’s Road Woes

“Woes” may not be the right word considering Pete Carroll’s team is the defending Super Bowl champion and all. However, it’s perfectly accurate to describe the Seahawks as near unbeatable at home and closer to average on the road. Two of their three losses last season came away from CenturyLink Field, and Seattle didn’t play a true road game in the playoffs either. And beyond the win-loss column, the difference on the scoreboard is pretty clear too. Last season, the Seahawks averaged nearly 30 points per game at home, outscoring opponents by 15.8 points per contest. On the road, they scored about a touchdown less per game (23 ppg) while outscoring the opposition by a similar margin (7.9 ppg). This trend stayed true three weeks ago in San Diego where Carroll’s team fell behind 20-7 before eventually losing 30-21. The Chargers dominated time of possession (42:15 to 17:45) and outgained the Seahawks handily (377-288), as the visitors wilted in the Southern California heat. The temperature shouldn’t be much of a factor tonight, not for an early fall evening in our nation’s capital, but Seattle needs to find a way to produce better results on the road. Especially against a team it should have little trouble beating. Sorry, Washington fans.


3. Backfield Battle Royal?

Last season, Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the NFL in rushing. Both ran for more than 1,250 yards and the duo combined for 19 rushing touchdowns. This season, Morris enters Week 5 fifth in the league with 316 yards on the ground while Lynch is matching his 4.5 yards per carry (with one less game played). Both backs are critical to their respective offense’s success, and containing each will be one of the focal points of the defenses tonight. Seattle is doing its customary job against the run, holding opponents to just 72.3 yards rushing per game, while Washington also has been a pleasant surprise in this department (87 ypg) early on. Not only have yards been hard to come by (2.8 ypc allowed by Seattle, 3.3 by Washington) against these defenses, they also have combined to yield just three rushing touchdowns in a total of seven games. So will we see Beast Mode unleashed tonight or a big game from the Redskins’ top ball-carrier? Or will both defenses continue to hold their ground against the run?


Final Analysis


Seattle’s the defending Super Bowl champion, coming off a bye, while Washington is still smarting from a sloppy, 31-point drubbing at home last week. Even though the Seahawks are not as fearsome on the road (see Week 2 in San Diego), as they are at home, Pete Carroll’s team is too talented and too proud to overlook any opponent. The Redskins bounce back by keeping this one closer than last week’s debacle against the Giants, but their losing streak stretches to three with another setback at FedEx Field.

Prediction: Seattle 30, Washington 20
Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /101-funny-fantasy-basketball-team-names

The NBA season tips off Oct. 28, which means it’s time for fantasy basketball. Only one team will win your league, but everyone can be a winner with a funny fantasy basketball team name. All you need to do is troll Donald Sterling or LeBron James, make a hipster or hip-hop pop culture reference and/or go meta with your NBA insight in a way that Metta World Peace might not follow. Here’s our list of suggestions for 2014-15:

Blow Me (in the Ear)









Bosh Spice


Donald Sterling Scumbags









Adam Silver’s My Homeboy










Bill Walton Smells Colors




Black Mamba > Black Widow



Kobe Wan Kenobi


Space Jam 2


Steve Ballmer’s iPhone


Brooklyn Nyets


Westbrook Geek Chic


Serge I-block-ya



Planet LoveBron


Planet Lovetron


Pippen Ain’t Easy





Cleveland Chemistry

Clubber Cousins







Metta World War 3


Metta World Peace Pipe






Derrick Rose Jersey


PG-13 Weeks


Mile High Manimal




Joakim Noah’s Arc


Rose Before Hoes



Sprichst Du Dirk?


Dirk Digglers


Grabbing Assets


Brittney Griner Tight


Shaqramento Queens


Deng Girl!



D-League D-Bags




Shawn Kemp’s Kids


Pass the Rock to Lamar


Kardashian Double-Team


Lala’s Honey Nut Cheerios


Air Ballers



Rodman & Madman


Love Outlet Passes



Tim Shootin’, Tim Duncan


Knockin’ Knickerbockers













Toronto Drakes


Degrassi Raptors



Ibaka Flocka Flame


Chocolate Thunder


Strawberry Thunder






These 101 fantasy basketball team names will make your league laugh
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-sec-coaches-2014-15

Sorry to break it to fans outside of Lexington and Gainesville, but SEC basketball is a little stale.


Kentucky and Florida have established a two-team power structure at the top of the league so close that the two teams have the same league record (64-20) since 2010.


If one coach can spice this league up, it’s the new guy at Auburn.


Bruce Pearl has one of the toughest jobs in the league at Auburn, but he’s back where he was when he was fired from Tennessee — with Calipari and Donovan as one of the top coaches in the league.


The rest of the coaches in the SEC need to deliver. Some are under pressure to replicate greater success they’ve had earlier in their careers (Mike Anderson, Kevin Stallings, Frank Martin) and some need to translate mid-major success to SEC wins (Mark Fox, Johnny Jones, Billy Kennedy).


As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.


Want to tell us how wrong we are? Tweet us at @AthlonSports or talk to us on .


1. John Calipari, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 152-37 (.804)

NCAA Tournament: 43-14, five Final Fours, one national championship

Number to note: Despite missing the 2013 Tournament, Calipari has 15 NCAA wins since 2010, most in the country during that span.

Why he’s ranked here: The disappointing 2013-14 regular season may not have been one of Cal’s shining moments, especially on the heels of an NIT exit a year earlier. The disappointment subsided with a run to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons.


2. Billy Donovan, Florida

Record at Florida: 451-169 (.727)

NCAA Tournament: 35-12, four Final Fours, two national championships

Number to note: Donovan has the second-most NCAA wins (13) since 2010 behind Calipari. The figure that doesn’t include two championships in 2006 and 2007.

Why he’s ranked here: Donovan will reach the 500-win mark next season and will be one of the top 25 fastest coaches to do so. His name will land somewhere around Lute Olson and Nolan Richardson in the record books in that category.


3. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Record at Auburn: First season

NCAA Tournament: 10-8

Number to note: Pearl has missed the NCAA Tournament only twice as a Division I head coach, both in his first three seasons at Milwaukee. 

Why he’s ranked here: Pearl already pulled three four-star recruits (one junior college) for the 2015 class. Auburn will be competitive soon enough.


4. Mike Anderson, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 59-39 (.602)

NCAA Tournament: 7-6

Number to note: Mike Anderson is 4-1 against Calipari-coached Kentucky teams. While at UAB, Anderson went 1-1 against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.

Why he’s ranked here: Once considered a home run hire when the Razorbacks hired Nolan Richardson’s right-hand man, Anderson will need to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time at Arkansas to truly shift the momentum of his program.


5. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Record at Vanderbilt: 292-192 (.603)

NCAA Tournament: 6-8

Number to note: During the last two years, Vanderbilt endured back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 13 seasons under Stallings.

Why he’s ranked here: Vanderbilt is still searching for answers since the John Jenkins/Festus Ezeli/Jeff Taylor class left school two years ago.


6. Frank Martin, South Carolina

Record at South Carolina: 28-38 (.424)

NCAA Tournament: 6-4

Number to note: The standings show a one-game improvement from 4-14 in the SEC to 5-12, but the Gamecocks improved from No. 210 to No. 114 in KenPom’s rankings in Martin’s second season.

Why he’s ranked here: Martin may never get South Carolina to the 29-win/Elite Eight mark as Kansas State did in 2010, but progress is being made incrementally.


7. Mark Fox, Georgia

Record at Georgia: 85-77 (.525)

NCAA Tournament: 2-4

Number to note: Georgia had a non-losing season in the SEC in three of Fox’s five seasons, including 12-6 last season.

Why he’s ranked here: The Bulldogs have been tough to play during the conference season, but the non-conference resume hasn’t been up to NCAA standards.


8. Johnny Jones, LSU

Record at LSU: 39-26 (.600)

NCAA Tournament: 0-2

Number to note: LSU went 9-9 in the SEC in each of Jones’ two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: The former Dale Brown assistant and player is a good fit, but last season’s NIT bid was a disappointment.


9. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss

Record at Ole Miss: 171-101 (.629)

NCAA Tournament: 1-1

Number to note: Kennedy is Ole Miss’ all-time wins leader and carries the best win percentage of any Rebels coach since 1938.

Why he’s ranked here: The 2013-14 season lends more credence to the supporting cast, not Marshall Henderson, being the key to 27 wins and an NCAA appearance in 2013.


10. Anthony Grant, Alabama

Record at Alabama: 99-71 (.582)

NCAA Tournament: 1-3

Number to note: Alabama last season was winless on the road for the first time since 1999-2000.

Why he’s ranked here: Alabama has recruited too well in five seasons under Grant to have as many losing seasons as NCAA appearances (one each).


11. Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: First season

NCAA Tournament: 2-2

Number to note: Not many coaches leave the Ohio Valley Conference with two NCAA wins in such a short period of time. One of Tyndall’s wins came in a play-in game, the other was an upset of No. 4 seed Louisville.

Why he’s ranked here: Southern Miss kept the momentum going under Tyndall with 56 wins in two seasons.


12. Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M

Record at Texas A&M: 50-49 (.505)

NCAA Tournament: 1-2

Number to note: Texas A&M’s conference win total has increased in each of the last three seasons under Kennedy from 4-14 in the Big 12 to 7-11 in the SEC to 8-10 last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Kennedy’s resume at Southeastern Louisiana and Murray State suggests he needs time to build a program, but Texas A&M had made six consecutive NCAA appearances before his arrival.


13. Rick Ray, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: 24-41 (.369)

NCAA Tournament: None

Number to note: A total of 11 players have left Mississippi State, not all of them by choice, in Ray’s two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: Ray has been building from the ground up in Starkville. This needs to be a season for him to show some progress.


14. Kim Anderson, Missouri

Record at Missouri: First season

NCAA Tournament: None

Number to note: Anderson led Central Missouri to a Division II national title last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Though he’s a former assistant at Missouri and Baylor, Anderson hasn’t spent any time at the Division I level since 1999. Now he he has one of the better jobs in the SEC.

College Basketball: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2014-15
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-texas-longhorns-team-preview

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 


No. 10 Texas is a contender in the Big 12 and on the national stage again. Both prospects were far off the radar in recent years under Rick Barnes, but the arrival of Isaiah Taylor and the development of a core group of veterans has put the Longhorns back into the spotlight.


The Texas edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.


The emergence of a standout freshman point guard last season combined with the addition of a five-star big man this season has the outlook at Texas much brighter.


Before last season, the thought was Rick Barnes could be looking at his final year as coach of the Longhorns, coming off three player defections and his first losing season in 15 years at UT.


But lightly recruited point guard Isaiah Taylor ended up leading the team in assists (4.0 apg) and nearly leading the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) as Texas returned to the NCAA Tournament, losing to Michigan in the Round of 32.


This season, Texas adds five-star big man Myles Turner to a veteran team that could finally get out of the first weekend of the NCAAs for the first time since 2008.


“The turnaround happened with those guys last year,” Barnes says. “And then when Myles came to visit, I think he sensed the chemistry going on. And our guys knew Myles could come and help, and they said they’d help him every way they could. You have to have a team — not individuals — and we have that again.”


No. 10 Texas Longhorns Facts & Figures

Last season: 24-11 overall, 11-7 Big 12

Postseason: Round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

Coach: Rick Barnes (382-166 at Texas, 166-76 Big 12)

Big 12 Projection: Second

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16




Turner arrives at Texas fresh off of a record-setting performance for blocked shots on the gold-medal winning Under-18 U.S. National team coached by Billy Donovan. Turner also arrives with the same kind of fanfare reserved for the likes of former Texas big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson. Turner may be a more accomplished shot-blocker than those two as an incoming freshman. And Barnes says Turner will have to be defended from the 3-point line, because his range extends beyond 20 feet. But there won’t be pressure for Turner to be a one-man show, because he enters a frontcourt loaded with experience, scoring and shot-blocking.


Jonathan Holmes, last year’s leading scorer (12.8 ppg), is the only senior on the team. At 6-8, Holmes and can play inside (7.2 rpg) and force defenders to follow him out to the arc, where he hit 28 3-pointers last season (second-most on the team).


Center Cam Ridley comes off an All-Big 12 third-team season in which he averaged 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Ridley also recorded at least four blocks in seven games while averaging 2.2 blocks per game.


Junior forwards Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh play important roles in different ways. At 6-9, Lammert can work inside (5.2 rpg) and outside (18 made 3-pointers last season), while Ibeh protects the rim; he had at least three blocked shots in six games last season. 




Taylor emerged as the main man at the point last season, replacing Javan Felix as the one running things in the final four minutes of a close game. Taylor proved capable of breaking down the defense of most any team, whether against man-to-man (23 points vs Kansas) or zone (27 points vs Baylor). He should only get better in his second season of college basketball.


Felix continues to play an important role as one of the team’s best decision-makers and leaders. He is also the team’s biggest threat from 3-point range (61 made 3s at a .343 clip last season).


Demarcus Holland, who held Big 12 scorers Juwan Staten of West Virginia and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas well below their averages, will defend the opposing team’s best perimeter player. And backup guards Martez Walker, Demarcus Croaker and Kendal Yancy should all be able to contribute and provide quality depth.


Final Analysis


Texas has a nice combination of size and speed, experience and depth, and the addition of Turner could make this a special season for the Longhorns. Holmes is the only senior, but Texas could have three others leave school early (Taylor, Ridley and Turner), depending on how the season goes.


Barnes loves the chemistry of this group and says his team’s expectations “will be higher than what anybody else says.”


“We had gotten the program to the point where we were always talked about going into a season as a top-10 team,” the coach says. “And when that went away, you don’t like it. But these players have a lot of pride and seem determined to make sure Texas is back where it belongs.”




Five-star freshman Myles Turner comes as a proven shot-blocker who has back-to-the-basket moves over both shoulders as well as 3-point range. Small forward Jordan Barnett will have to prove he can play defense for Rick Barnes before he can show off his ability to score. 

College Basketball 2014-15: Texas Longhorns Team Preview
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/northwestern-makes-unlikely-return-ranks-big-ten-contenders

Northwestern gave up 259 rushing yards to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, and as a result, the Wildcats will face Minnesota next week in a game to lead the Big Ten West division.


As much as Northwestern’s struggles during the second half of last season defied explanation, so does the Wildcats’ return to the top half of the Big Ten.


In a checkered season for the Big Ten, Northwestern's turnaround has become one of the bright spots.


Few teams endured a more trying year than Northwestern. The Wildcats lost seven of their last eight last season, starting with a loss to Ohio State with ESPN College GameDay in town. Northwestern continued the misery with losses to Cal and Northern Illinois to open 2014.


The tally as of Sept. 6: Nine losses in 10 games, six by one score, two in overtime. Meanwhile, Northwestern became the focal point player compensation issues when players held a union vote during the summer. Then, Northwestern lost its top offensive player in Venric Mark and leader in receiving yards in Christian Jones.


If any team deserved some breaks, it was Northwestern.


The Wildcats have won three in a row, including victories over Big Ten powers Penn State and Wisconsin. That sets up an unlikely matchup of Big Ten West contenders when the Wildcats visit Minnesota.


“We are definitely playing with a lot more passion and a lot more physicality than we did earlier in the year,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told the media. “I don't have any issues with what we did earlier in the year, except what we were doing on Saturdays.”


So how did Northwestern turn this around?


There’s certainly an element of Northwestern not being nearly as bad as its record would indicate over the last calendar year.


And it helps that Penn State and Wisconsin are hardly the complete teams Northwestern is used to seeing. Penn State’s offensive line was in shambles when the Wildcats won 29-6. 


On Saturday, Wisconsin showed it is little more than its star tailback. Despite 259 yards from Gordon, Northwestern never trailed on the way to a 20-14 win.


Northwestern's personnel is also starting to settle in after the roster has been in flux for more than a year.


After early struggles, Trevor Siemian is playing like a solid Big Ten quarterback, completing 36-of-66 passes for 440 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a pair of Big Ten wins.

On Saturday, freshman Justin Jackson had a rare workhorse game for a Northwestern running back. He ran for 162 yards on 33 carries against the Badgers.


At the same time, Northwestern is starting to make its own breaks. Earlier this season, the secondary was dealt a major blow when veteran safety Ibraheim Campbell was injured.


Redshirt freshman Godwin Igwebuike stepped in to intercept three passes against Wisconsin.


“Nobody saw it coming,” Igwebuike told the media. “I mean, I didn't even see it coming.”


The same could be said of Northwestern’s spot at the top of the Big Ten.

Northwestern Makes Unlikely Return to Ranks of Big Ten Contenders
Post date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 18:40
Path: /college-football/georgia-tech-and-virginia-emerge-unlikely-frontrunners-coastal-division

Preseason predictions are never an exact science, but the Coastal Division was perhaps the Power 5 league with the most uncertainty and overall difficulty when trying to sort out the projections.

Six weeks into the season, the Coastal Division might have clarity in the form of Georgia Tech and Virginia.

Yes, that’s right. Georgia Tech and Virginia.

In most preseason predictions, the Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers were projected to finish near the bottom of the Coastal. Six weeks into 2014, Georgia Tech and Virginia are two of the three unbeaten (Florida State is the other) teams in the ACC.

There’s a long way to go, so who knows if either team can maintain its start or remain at the top of the Coastal.

However, with the overall unpredictability of the division, should we really be surprised?

The Cavaliers went 2-10 last year but still had one of the ACC’s most-talented rosters. Coach Mike London has signed four consecutive top 35 recruiting classes, and two five-star prospects in tackle Andrew Brown and safety Quin Blanding headlined the haul for 2014.

Quarterback play has been a primary culprit in Virginia’s offensive struggles, but the Cavaliers have nine touchdown passes through six games, which ties the mark this team posted in 2013.

There’s also progress on defense, as Virginia is allowing just 4.8 yards per play. That’s an improvement from the 5.7 mark the Cavaliers gave up in 2013.

For Georgia Tech, coach Paul Johnson ended 2013 on the hot seat after a 1-3 finish and a 7-6 record.

But Johnson has guided the Yellow Jackets back on track, and with wins over Miami and Virginia Tech, this team could be the favorite in the Coastal.

Quarterback Justin Thomas is a perfect fit for Georgia Tech’s option attack, and the turnover margin has been in this team’s favor (+5) after a negative mark (-4) last year.

In a division full of teams with flaws, it’s important to note both Georgia Tech and Virginia lead the ACC in turnover margin.

And with both teams getting better play from the quarterback position, it’s easy to see why Georgia Tech and Virginia have emerged as Coastal Division title contenders.

That’s right: Georgia Tech and Virginia. Coastal Division contenders. That’s not something most expected in the preseason, but the Coastal Division is up for grabs, and there’s not a dominant among the seven programs this year.

Miami and North Carolina are struggling on defense. Virginia Tech’s offense has struggled with turnovers. Pittsburgh needs to develop playmakers other than Tyler Boyd and James Conner. Does Duke have the necessary pieces on defense to repeat as Coastal champs?

Again, Georgia Tech and Virginia are far from perfect. But when you win the turnover margin and get better play from your quarterbacks, you start to see why the Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers are poised to easily exceed preseason expectations. 

Georgia Tech and Virginia Emerge as Unlikely Frontrunners in Coastal Division
Post date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 18:15